The University of Massachusetts Boston Archives and Special Collections has acquired the historical organizational records of the Catholic Association of Foresters, thanks to the efforts of members of The Irish Ancestral Research Association, which served as custodian of this historic collection from 2005 - 2011.
The Massachusetts Catholic Order of Foresters was founded in 1879 by a group of Irish immigrants to provide life insurance benefits for its members. The organization grew from one small group in Boston to branches in cities and towns throughout the state. By 1930, there were 60,000 members of the Foresters in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Catholic Order of Foresters was renamed the Catholic Association of Foresters in 1960. The Foresters still exists as a fraternal life insurance society. The Irish Ancestral Research Association (TIARA) rescued the archival Foresters records from consignment to the dumpster, and in 2011 transferred ownership of the Massachusetts Catholic Order of Foresters (MCOF) records to the University of Massachusetts Boston for the purpose of preserving and making available to researchers the records of the organization.
Each prospective Forester applying for coverage completed an application. The application included personal data, family information and a physical examination. Subsequent death benefit disbursements named beneficiaries. Any additional correspondence regarding beneficiaries was also included in the Foresters Mortuary Record. This material reveals a wealth of information about family structure, health, mortality, mobility, and occupations of predominantly Irish immigrants and their descendants who settled in Massachusetts.
How Do I Request a Copy of a Record?
Requests for mortuary records between 1880 and 1944 will be fulfilled by the University Archives and Special Collections staff at UMass Boston. To make a request:
- Search for your relatives using our online Index. Be sure to try all possible spellings. Many women are listed under both their maiden names and their married names.
- For each person you are researching, send us the following information from the index listing: the person's Name, Date of Death and Death Claim Number from the Index.
- Charges are $10 per record requested; checks should be made out to "Healey Library, UMass Boston"
- Send your check, along with your name, telephone number, postal address, e-mail address (if applicable) and the relevant names, dates of death and claim numbers to the address below:
University Archives and Special Collections
Joseph P. Healey Library
University of Massachusetts Boston
100 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125
Attention: Foresters Search
- If you prefer to receive the records as electronic PDF (scanned) files, indicate that in your request and be sure to include your e-mail address.
- Questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- All requests will be answered on a "first come, first served" basis as staff time permits. Turnaround is usually less than two weeks.
Please note: Although we can provide access to Foresters records through 1944, our online index currently only lists records through 1935. If you would like to search for a record between 1936-1944, please contact us at email@example.com
and we will assist you with your search.